Warrnambool gun forward Jason Rowan looking forward to coaching challenge at WDFNL club Merrivale

NEW ROLE: Warrnambool's leading goalkicker Jason Rowan has left the HFNL to coach and play at Merrivale in 2017. Picture: Amy Paton

NEW ROLE: Warrnambool's leading goalkicker Jason Rowan has left the HFNL to coach and play at Merrivale in 2017. Picture: Amy Paton

Fit and quick: two qualities Jason Rowan wants to see in Merrivale’s game in his first year at the helm.

The Hampden league 2016 leading goalkicker was unveiled as the Warrnambool and District league club’s new coach on the weekend in a huge recruiting coup for the Tigers.

Rowan, who won the Hampden league’s goalkicking award this season with 67 majors, said a move into coaching had been on his radar for a while.

“Being captain at Warrnambool for a few years now, it is sort of a stepping stone to get into coaching,” he said.

“It’s a bit of an unknown, how good you’re going to be as a coach.”

The star forward said his priority had been helping the Blues go as far as they could into finals but after their first semi-final loss to Port Fairy, he was able to turn his focus to preparing for 2017 at his new club.

Rowan expects the Tigers to retain the majority of their list heading into next season and wants to build on a sole finals appearance in 2016.

“There’s a great list down there and a great mix of young kids that (former coach) Karl (Dwyer) has played a lot in seniors this year,” he said.

“You’ve also got your mature-age group and then you’ve got your older guys. It’s a really healthy mix.”

Rowan said he and wife Bec – who is expected to join the Tigers’ netballers in some capacity – had weighed up the positives and negatives of making the shift to coaching.

The move leaves Rowan short of Tony Russell’s all-time Hampden league goalkicking record of 1021 career goals, with 894 to his credit.

“I’m probably 120 off breaking the goalkicking record. I did think about it. Yeah, it’d be a great individual honour, but it could be another year or two down the track,” he said.

He said his desire to coach “overrode” the pursuit of the record.

Matthew Brown – whose wife Louise plays A grade netball at Merrivale – will join Rowan as an assistant coach.

“He’s had five years as an assistant coach in a Queensland competition. He knows what it’s like to control and run a bench for a playing coach,” Rowan said.

“I think the whole key is having your assistant coach someone you can really trust because at the end of the day I want to still worry about playing football. I can’t be making changes from the goal square.”

Merrivale recruiting officer Luke Attrill said the club was thrilled to land Rowan’s signature.

“He’s a good mate of mine and a few other boys at the club. We’ve touched base with him every time a coaching job has come up, to be honest,” Attrill said. “We expect him to work pretty well with the juniors – he sort of had that role with Warrnambool. Karl Dywer put an emphasis on that as well.”

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